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Pfizer-BioNTech likely to be effective against new mutant COVID-19 variant; Study

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Texas, Jan 08: Pfizer Inc and BioNTechs COVID-19 vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in Britain and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the U.S. drugmaker.


The study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein.


The mutation could be responsible for greater transmissibility and there had been concern it could also make the virus escape antibody neutralization elicited by the vaccine, said Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizers top viral vaccine scientists.


The first results of tests on the variants offer a glimmer of hope while more studies are carried out as Britain and other countries try to tame the more infectious variants which authorities believe are driving a surge in infections that could overwhelm healthcare systems.


The Pfizer-BioNTech study was conducted on blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine. Its findings are limited because it does not look at the full set of mutations found in either of the new variants of the rapidly spreading virus.


Dormitzer said it was encouraging that the vaccine appears effective against the mutation, as well as 15 other mutations the company has previously tested against.


“So weve now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. Thats the good news,” he said. “That doesnt mean that the 17th wont.”


Dormitzer said another mutation found in the South African variant, called the E484K mutation, was also concerning. The researchers plan to run similar tests to establish whether the vaccine is effective against other mutations found in the British and South African variants and hope to have more data within weeks. The variants are said by scientists to be more transmissible than previously dominant ones, but they are not thought to cause more serious illness.


Scientists said the results of the study would help calm concerns that people will not be protected by vaccines being given to millions of people around the world in the fight against the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.8 million people and roiled economies.


But they cautioned that more clinical tests and data are still needed to come to a definitive conclusion.


“This is good news, mainly because it is not bad news,” said Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


“So, yes this is good news, but it does not yet give us total confidence that the Pfizer (or other) vaccines will definitely give protection.”


AstraZeneca, Moderna and CureVac are also testing whether their shots work against the fast-spreading variants. They have said they expect them to be effective, but the timing of those studies are not known. A senior British lawmaker expressed concerns in an interview on Friday that COVID-19 vaccines might not work properly against the South African variant. He was not responding to questions about Friday`s data.


The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the one from Moderna Inc, which use synthetic messenger RNA technology, can be quickly tweaked to address new mutations of a virus if necessary. Scientists have suggested the changes could be made in as little as six weeks.


The variant is not the first of the pandemic to emerge and Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh, said these types of study will be needed as they appear. “It may be necessary to tweak the vaccine over time,” she said.

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In J&K, over six lakh children anaemic, reveals NITI Aayog

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(Asian News Hub) – In Jammu and Kashmir, over six lakh children have anaemia while more than two lakh children are stunted, reveals NITI Aayog State Nutrition Profile 2021.

According to the figures of NITI Aayog study titled State Nutrition Profile of Jammu and Kashmir accessed by the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), “Over 625,519 children are anaemic and 251,393 are stunted in J&K. The findings are based on data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 3 (2005-2006), 4 (2015-2016), and 5 (2019-2020).”

Also Read: Poonch encounter: Bodies of two missing soldiers retrieved; toll 9

The anaemic data in the report reveals that in J&K 20 out of 20 districts shows public health concern.

As per the data, Anantnag is the highest-burden district with 69,576 numbers of anaemic children while Kupwara stands second with 62,491 number anaemic children. Budgam stands third with 54,203 numbers of anaemic children. In Srinagar, the numbers of anaemic children are 51,730 and in Baramulla, number of anaemic children are 48, 307.

Also Read: Amid high alert in Kashmir; gunmen kill two non-local residents in Sgr, Pulwama

“In Jammu, the numbers of anaemic children are around 47,000. In Rajouri, the numbers of anaemic children are around 34,000 while in Udhampur, the number of anaemic children are around 25, 000. In Poonch, the numbers of anaemic children are around 19,000”, the data reveals.

As per the NITI Aayog study report, 18 out of 20 districts show public health concern regarding the number of stunted children in J&K.

“Anantnag district has the highest number of 27, 578 stunted children. In Srinagar, there are 24, 680 stunted children and in Kupwara, there are 21, 982 stunted children, with Jammu having 20, 178 and in Budgam there are 19, 025 stunted children,” reveals the data.

Also Read: Following civilian killings, 13 militants killed in 9 encounters

It further reveals that in Rajouri there are more around 15, 000 stunted children. In Baramulla, there are 18,000 stunted children. In Kathua, there are around 8,000 stunted children. In Poonch, there are around 10,000 stunted children. In Ramban, there are around 7,000 stunted children. In Udhampur, there are around 15, 000 stunted children. In Doda, there are around 11,000 stunted children. In Kishtwar, there are around 5,000 stunted children.

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COVID19 vaccines effective enough, no need for third booster jab: Lancet

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Cancer Vaccine

AFP

(Asian News Hub) – Vaccines are effective enough at preventing severe cases of Covid-19 that there is no current need for the general population to be given third doses, according to a report in The Lancet published Monday.

Some countries have started offering extra doses over fears about the much more contagious Delta variant, causing the World Health Organization to call for a moratorium on third jabs amid concerns about vaccine supplies to poorer nations, where millions have yet to receive their first jab.

Also Read: Even after 5 decades, CRP Sgr hasn’t seen even 50 percent completion, reveals report

The new report by scientists, including from the WHO, concluded that even with the threat of Delta, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic”.

The authors, who reviewed observational studies and clinical trials, found that vaccines remain highly effective against severe symptoms of Covid-19, across all the main virus variants including Delta, although they had lower success in preventing asymptomatic cases of the disease.

Also Read: Sgr turns COVID hotspot again; Admin mulls curbs

“Taken as a whole, the currently available studies do not provide credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination,” said lead author Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, of the WHO.

She said vaccine doses should be prioritised to people around the world still waiting for a jab.

“If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants,” she added.

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COVID-19: Samba becomes first district to complete vaccination for all above 18 years

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Cancer Vaccine

Instead of waiting for people to come, we reached out to them: DC Samba; LG congratulates for achieving milestone

(Asian News Hub) – Amid the ongoing Covid vaccination drive in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, Samba has become the first district in giving the first dose of Covid vaccine to all above 18 years of age.

A top health official told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that there are around 241,000 persons in the district in between 18-44 age group and all of them have already got their first dose of Covid vaccine.

Also Read: DAK urges flu vaccination for children ahead of third Covid wave

He said that around 78,000 (33 percent) people have also got second dose of Covid vaccine and the process of vaccinating more and more people is going on. “It was possible only due to the efforts of health workers and front line workers who have worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone,” the official said.

District Magistrate Samba Anuradha Gupta said that since the beginning Samba district started the vaccination process strategically and Samba was among first few districts which completed vaccination process of all above 45 years of age.

“Instead of waiting for people to come to us, we went to them. We had constituted mobile teams to reach everyone. We were vaccinating above 45 age group the positivity and mortality rate started declining and people understood the importance of vaccination,” Gupta said.

Also Read: WHO says Covid will mutate like the flu and is likely here to stay

She said that then people above 18 years came on their own without need of any mobilisation and “our efforts are on complete second dose process at an earliest.”

Meanwhile LG Manoj Sinha has congratulated the Covid management team of Samba and health care workers for their tireless efforts in completing 100 percent vaccination of above 18 years of age. He hoped that other districts will catch up soon and complete this process as well.

“Congratulations to Covid mgmt team of Samba & health care workers for their tireless effort to ensure 100% vaccination of above 18 yrs of age.Samba becomes first distt. of J&K to achieve this milestone & I am sure other districts will catch up soon,” Office of LG tweeted.

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